In the Spring of 2019, HighLife Productions collaborated with Spring44 + Chef Andrew Maturana to reinvent the “dinner party”. Local, Sustainable, delicious eats were on the menu as well as our signature “farm-to-bar” cocktail program, which is a highlight of our summer events calendar at our marquee event Secret Summer. Venue: The Foundry LIC, Florals by Brenton Wolf, Rentals by Broadway Party Rental, Catering by Rapt NY, DJ Eric Visa, Photos by @julesslutsky,
SShef is an unparalleled private dining experience, that was held at The Foundry on Thursday, May 9th This exclusive event served as a kickoff to Secret Summer, the nation’s first and only farm to bar cocktail festival. SShef is brought to you by RAPT, an NYC-based catering and events company and HighLife Productions an NYC based Event Production Company. This special supper club was a three course experience from chef and RAPT owner Andrew Maturana, complemented by unlimited farm to bar cocktails from Spring 44. The dinner menu featured Crisp Edamame with Perigord Truffle and Parmigiano Reggiano, Wild-Caught, Pan-Roasted Black Sea Bass with Fennel Rosti & Buttermilk and Grilled Spring Eggplant Terrine with Fromage Blanc & Pinot Reduction. The night’s entree is a “Woolley Sheep Farm” Spring Lamb with a Jerusalem Artichoke and Miso Purée, Additionally, House Pappardelle Pasta will be served with Chanterelle and Spring Garlic Cream. Dessert will be “Berried Treasure Farm” Tristar Berry Crumble with a 5 Spice Crust, whipped Mascarpone and baby basil.
Creative production, experiential marketing and design by HighLife.
Is it the venue? Eh, maybe. Is it the lighting? probably not. Although, I did recently attend an event at Cipriani’s for the company “Moment Factory” and let me tell you it was definitely ABOUT THE LIGHTING. Incredible video mapping installation they have put in Cipriani’s Downtown. Back on track here. Is it the Music? Yes, possibly if you are hosting an EDM Festival, Bluegrass Concert, karaoke night music might be the most important thing but for the great majority of events out there the most important element is of course the FOOD & DRINKS.
Think about the last event you attended. What was memorable about it? The conversation, the people, you met, the laughs you shared (hoho) or how incredible the mixology was and the delightfully cute bartender. In most cases the food and the drinks are what people talk about for months after your event. This is what people come for. This is what they expect when attending an event ESPECIALLY if they guests have paid to be there. How many times have you heard people say “I’m not going if I have to buy drinks…” The importance of having solid food and drinks is probably the best investment of your money you can make. With many of our clients who are planning events here in NYC on a budget they say to me that they are spending $8,000.00 on the venue and therefore don’t have the money to spend on the catering… Here is a quick hack. In NYC the wealth of condo buildings that now come with STUNNING common rooms is overwhelming. These common rooms largely are empty 95% of the time and are FREE to the people who live there. All you have to do is inquire amongst your friends to see who has one of these common rooms in their building. Boom I just saved you $7k you can now spend on the food and drinks.
Events are a special time for friends to get together and celebrate so the food and drinks should be special too. If you want a jack & coke just go to the Irish pub on the corner. A jack & coke is not a cocktail. A cocktail consists of at least 3 ingredients. 2 ingredients is an emergency.
Yes, I will have another sustainable seared red snapper with creme fraiche in a crispy wonton taco… they are delightful.
My Mom loves to tell the story of the day she got married. She had planned for the perfect wedding but after rain, catering mishaps and even a very important person in her life telling her that they didn’t approve who she was marrying, because of religious differences, everything seemed to be falling apart; however, my mother told herself “nothing will ruin this day” and ignored it all.
When we host a party that does not go as we planned we ask ourselves, “Why me, why my party?” What we don’t realize at the time is that something is bound to go wrong. The more you plan for your party the greater your expectations are for how it will turn out; you expect your party to turn out exactly how you picture. With higher standards in mind, when something small goes awry, it has a larger impact on how we view our party than it should. We see the party running off track; however, all the guests are perfectly content.
An easy way to solve this issue is taking a quick survey or judging the conversations in the room. If you, as the host, ask a guest “how are you enjoying everything?” your guests will appreciate your taking time to speak with them and you will also gather key information. Look for tone in their answer rather than the answer itself because guests are inclined to give you a positive response; no one will tell you “this party is going terribly”.
The truth is that guests don’t have expectations of your party in mind until after they are there, at the very least their threshold for a good party is a lot lower than yours. While you may see your party as going terribly, they may see that it is running smoothly. The pasta didn’t come with your catering even though you made it explicitly clear what you had ordered? Your guests do not know that, just work around it! Honestly, the guests usually could care less about the things you see as problems. Further, these flaws may actually be enhancing the experience and may be a primetime to make memories. Be spontaneous! Oh, it is raining during your wedding? Why don’t you dance in the rain, I am sure that it will make for a great memory to put in your photo-book.
At this point you may be thinking that the title is misleading, but it’s not. The solution to stopping your party from going haywire is to expect things to go wrong. Once you start seeing flaws in the party, it will lead into a downward spiral where everything seems to be going poorly. However, if you are not satisfied, here are some tips to fix common mishaps:
I. Rain: It is very easy to plan and book around the weather if you are planning a party a week or two in advance. Parties that require long term planning cannot do this. In these scenarios be sure to notify your guests of the weather as soon as you can . An easy solution is to move your party inside if it is outdoors. You can also set up tents and umbrellas to avoid everyone from getting wet. With the accuracy of weather forecasts in modern times rain should be pretty easy to work around.
II. Important Guest is Late: If someone important to your party is late, your guests may be growing impatient. An easy solution is to distract them. Tell jokes or a funny story about the guest being late in the past. Survey the audience, ask them to tell jokes, play a game, there are so many options! The key is just to be prepared when the moment comes because being spontaneous may sound easy but can be very hard for some people . Therefore, planning ahead with some activities that could help pass time is a key.
III. Food Mishaps: these scenarios are why it is so important to have a backup plan and to be in contact with your catering constantly leading up to your event. It will be hard to find a backup for good quality food if something goes wrong. If the food was mis-delivered or destroyed in some fashion, the catering you use will usually provide a backup, but don’t count on it. If your food never shows up, or they are not able to provide a backup, you need a plan. Have somewhere in mind that will be able to provide food on the spot (although not very luxurious pizza is always a decent option). A way to avoid this entire scenario is to confirm with the food service repeatedly before your party, especially a week in advance and the morning of. If an un-replaceable item is destroyed, say a wedding cake, it may seem like a big deal but the faster you move on the less likely it is to ruin your day. Your guests won’t care if you serve them backup deserts and it is sure to make its place in the memory books.
IV. Silence: This is one of the scariest scenarios, if no one is mingling all eyes are on the host. This scenario is rare and usually only occurs when your guests have some hostility between them or a crowd of introverts. It becomes your job to spark conversation and introduce people. Meeting people is always the hardest part, talking with them after is the easy . If your guests are hostile toward one another try to do something to to draw their attention away from that hostility. Some of the techniques from part II should do the trick or introduce them to other guests at the party.
What do you think? Would you handle these situations in the same way? If you have any other inquiries about party mishaps please let me know below!
Author: Paul Erlanger, Intern for Highlife Productions
The primary goal of any host is to maximize the experience for their guests. All other objectives, including revenue, come second because if the party fails so does your reputation as a host and all future profit. However, “experience” is a very vague term and most people have a different idea of what a good experience looks like. A very easy way to maximize the appeal of your event for your guests is to put yourself in their shoes. To do this you must contextualize your party’s theme with all the ways your guests will perceive it.
Part I Sight:
This is where first impressions are made, the make or break moment. For this reason, focus on the entry point. How people view the party when entering will strongly influence how they view the rest of the experience. If you are throwing a party at night be sure to have quality lighting to set the tone of your event, the dimmer the lighting the more romantic the mood. If you are going for a club-vibe make sure the room isn’t pitch black, throw in some flashing lights or colored beams. If your party is in the day utilize natural lighting. Phillips makes a bulb called the HUE, which allows you to control the color and dimness of the bulb through an app, you can also let the lights change to your music!
Watch out! Be sure to decorate but do not overload the senses, if the space looks too crowded it will turn people off.
Part II Sound:
If anything takes the constellation prize for first impressions it is sound. The music you play can change the entire atmosphere of the party. DO NOT just throw your favorite songs into a playlist, be thoughtful and craft a playlist to the experience of your party. If you are looking for speakers, Sonos makes amazing home entertainment systems that will deliver a high quality booming sound for a good price. The speakers stream directly from the speakers to maximize sound quality (I promise this is an unsponsored endorsement). If you hire live musicians even better, but still keep genre in mind! If you are too lazy to make your own playlists we have you covered. Spotify and other music streaming services have pre-made playlists based on genre.
Don’t let the music overpower discourse, so be sure that you are able to understand others at a normal speaking volume with the music on. A good idea is to have rooms dedicated to louder music for dancing and other rooms with quieter music primarily used for talking. Silence is also an option but only in very specific situations because even faint background music can dispel any awkwardness from conversation.
Part III Smell:
This one is pretty obvious, make sure your party doesn’t have an intolerable stench. Keeping the doors open to the kitchen can be an easy way to spread delightful smells throughout your house -or- just buy some Febreze defusers to place throughout your event, make sure they are not overpowering though. If your party is centered around the smell, like a perfume advertising event, then smell becomes all more important. A pro tip is to put a bottle of cologne/perfume in the bathroom to keep everyone smelling nice.
Part IV Feel:
Just make sure everything is clean, plain and simple. Not just before but throughout the party also.
Part V Taste:
Everyone’s favorite food! If you are serving food at a party make sure it matches the theme of the party. Try to serve clean fresh ingredients, not only will they taste better but they look beautiful. If you are not a chef and cannot afford to hire one, catering is always a great option, it is quick and easy. Don’t leave the food in the catering containers, switching them over to a decorated plate is so easy and makes all the difference. Also, have options for everyone, don’t forget the vegan.
Author: Paul Erlanger, Intern for HighLife Productions
The Nation’s First and Only Sustainable Seafood Festival, Aquarius, Returned to the Foundry in Long Island City on January 26.
The 2nd Annual arctic-chic Aquarius festival, highlighting sustainable seafood and cocktails took place at The Foundry in Long Island City on Saturday, January 26th. The fully restored 19th Century building, which boasts 3,000 sprawling square feet of space and offers up stunning views of the Manhattan skyline along with a gorgeous indoor Greenhouse, played host to this year’s sold-out event. The stunning space was filled with delicacies from the sea that were perfectly paired with complimentary spirits. Aquarius comes to life each year courtesy of the talented producers of Secret Summer, Tyler Hollinger of HighLife Productions, Andrew Maturana of RAPT and Allison du Val of The Foundry.
Sustainable seafood offerings were as vast as the ocean. MF EVENTS had a raw bar filled with oysters served three ways. Midtown Greek hotspot Kellari Taverna,CA’PISCI in Williamsburg, Crazy Taco Mex, Neapolitan Express and My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream all offered up delicious snacks as well. Awe-inspiring accessories were available to purchase from Nuun Watch Official and Penelope Traveling Boutique. Guests commemorated the magical evening with photo shoots in the 4Five Photo Booth. Immersive experiences took shape throughout the night with Winter Burlesque from Karina and two all-star performances from Hudson Horns that brought down the house. The night’s soundtrack was provided by DJ Sasha Hart with guitarist Neon Jesus in the main room and DJ Ryan Vandal in the Albra Room. Revelers were able to warm up inside or outside by lit firepits. World class brands were also brought on board for this exclusive party. Coney Island Brewery provided craft beer and hard sodas. Barr Hill Gin & Caledonia Spirits, Tanteo Tequila, Spring 44 Distillery and The Finnish Long Drink and Ketel One served up their premium spirits. Ardbeg & Oysters offered guests Ardbeg 10YO Bloody Marys and the 10YO Long Islay paired neat with Oysters for purchase from MF Events. Polar Seltzer Water and Töst and Harmless Harvest Coconut Water ensured guests stayed hydrated all night long. Guests were also able to sample ginger beers from Fentimans Botanical, and sparkling probiotic drinks from KeVita.
Secret Summer, the country’s only farm-to-bar cocktail festival, will return to The Foundry on August 4th. For more information, please visit: http://secretsummernyc.com
HighLife Productions was tapped by WHITMAN INSIGHTS to put together this private Amagansett feast for 10 people. including 4 Passed Bites, 5 Main Stations, Desserts, Cocktails, and more. HighLife Productions signature “Farm-to-Bar” cocktails made the transition from day to night easy as these dog days of summer toast our dreams and infuse our hopes. A memorable Hamptons Indian Summer.
Services provided: NYC Event Catering, Cocktail Design & Mixology, NYC Model Event Staffing, NYC Event Design, NYC Event production
New York Fashion Week is by far one of the most exciting and stylish times to be in New York. HighLife has worked with fabulous designers from Opening Ceremony, Donna Karan, Diane Von Furstenberg, Belstaff, La Coste, and more… Whether its simple food & beverage for pre/post show treats or more comprehensive event design and production for branded activations, influencer call to actions, or large end of week bashes. HigLlife is there. Viva la fashion week!
Services provided: New York Fashion Week Model Event Staffing, New York Fashion Week Event Catering, New York Fashion Week Event Production, New York Fashion Week Mixology and Beverage Services.
Longtime client Opening Ceremony came to HighLife and told us about their new collaboration with online fashion retailer Everlane; we were immediately hooked. Looking to maximize a minimal budget, OC wanted a “warm & fuzzy” fall feel to their kick off event in-store. One of our specialties is producing interesting, innovative, and immersive events in-store. HighLife engaged sponsors like Rekorderlig Hard Cider and Fentiman’s Ginger Beer for sponsorship as well as created hand crafted autumnal mixology like the “Vodka Apple Cider Ginger Smash” garnished with granny smith and candied ginger. In addition, we poured warm winter cider with rum & honey and danced the night away. Notables abounded like Humberto Leon, Michael Stipe, Kitty Cash, and Phil Sullivan. The HighLife staff looked dope AF in Everlane button downs, ready for winter.